Mitzvah is a Jewish word that means commandment, but is often used to mean good deed. Jewish children do “mitzvah projects” during the year of their bar or bat mitzvah, the Jewish coming of age ceremony. In a new twist on the mitzvah project, PeerCorps Detroit is matching up 12 and 13 year olds in their bar/bat mitzvah year with eleventh and twelfth grade mentors to work on projects such at Detroit’s Eden Garden Block Club, Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Center, D-Town Farms, and Clark Park.
The two year old program requires a one year commitment from the mentors who kick off their year living together for a week, engaging in a spiritual, education and political journey, meeting the organization’s community partners, and getting the pulse of the city.
That week, says program director AJ Aaron, “is the glue that keeps everyone close for the next ten months.”
The mentors are paired with community partners and have the opportunity to do what Aaron calls a “deep dive” into the missions and values of the organizations they’re serving.
When offered the opportunity to plan a program celebrating their year of service, the teens decided they wanted to do an interfaith program.
“I’m grateful that the teens are pushing me as a coordinator to make this happen,” says Aaron, “They’re teens who have this beautiful attitude. They’re just excited to be around other teens.”
The program they agreed on is an interfaith youth potluck, which will take place March 31 at the facility of Repair the World, which sponsors PeerCorps. It’s a chance for socializing, a group art project, group discussion, and, of course, food.
The group is actively doing outreach to teens from all faiths. To participate, or bring a group to participate, contact AJ Aaron at firstname.lastname@example.org.